NaNoWriMo – Knowledge or Write What you Know

Knowledge? Bet you’re wondering what I’m talking about 🙂

First I’m going to quote a Billy Joel song:

I’ve been stranded in the combat zone
I walked through Bedford Stuy alone
Even rode my motorcycle in the rain
And you told me not to drive
But I made it home alive
So you said that only proves that I’m insane

Now you’re probably really wondering where I’m going. I do have a point though…

Billy Joel fudged things up here. If you read the lyrics you get the impression that driving a motorcycle in the rain is pretty crazy. But if you’ve driven a motorcycle in the rain, the lyrics look silly. How about taking your motorcycle out in January and racing snowmobiles across packed snow or ice? Nope, not all that dangerous either.

Then there’s walking through Bedford Stuy. Never been there, but I used to walk around downtown Washington after midnight. Alone. Never once had a problem.

Now someone who isn’t a motorcycle rider, and isn’t used to walking the inner cities, might conclude that Billy Joel’s song is an accurate reflection of reality. Anyone who knows what things are really like, is going to laugh.

Remember all the times people have told you to ‘write what you know’ – this is one of them. If you don’t know that riding a motorcycle in a rainstorm is no big deal, or that driving a car at 120 MPH on the highway isn’t all that dangerous (assuming there aren’t any other cars around that is), you can write things that don’t make sense to people who do know.

And they’ll generally stop reading. Why would they continue? You’ve lost credibility with them.

If you don’t know by direct experience, do some research. Often what looks dangerous, isn’t all that dangerous for someone who knows what they are doing.

Oh, and those crazy things, like a guy punching a bull in the head, and knocking it silly? Or the shepherd who strangled a bear to death because it was endangering his flock? Sometimes they aren’t so crazy. There are people who have done those things.

Good luck, and keep writing!


Wayne Borean

Sunday November 2, 2014



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